Sept. 20, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A toxic Superfund site in Greenpoint near the location of a potential school is steadily approaching a full-fledged cleanup, with a remediation process now proposed and a public meeting to discuss it set for two weeks time.
The former NuHart Plastic plant, located at 280 Franklin St., has been designated a New York State Superfund site since 2010, and is mainly contaminated underground with two dangerous chemicals—trichloroethylene and phthalates.
The site, in addition, is across the street from the proposed location of a public school, set to be built as part of the massive Greenpoint Landing development— a separate development now inextricably linked to the toxic site.
The two properties are at intersecting crossroads, where the school’s five-year hold on construction due to concerns about migrated toxins from the Superfund site is steadily coming up at the end of this year. The Superfund site, meanwhile, is under new owners who are in the midst of developing the location.
Now, after a meeting held this summer to inform the community on next steps for both sites, another milestone has been reached—a tentative plan that outlines how the developers will clean up the toxic site.
The plan, spelled out by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, is called the “Proposed Remedial Action Plan,” or “PRAP,” and describes specific actions that the site’s owners, All Year Management, could take to remedy the contamination, along with alternative actions.
This plan, in roughly 40 pages and echoing the overview given by the DEC in the June meeting, includes actions like establishing the type of containment system to be installed for excavation work, disposal methods of the contaminants, and other practices to prevent the toxins from further migration.
Part of the proposed plan, for example, says approximately 22,500 cubic yards of soil will be excavated from the site under a sealed tent, with an estimated 6,600 cubic yards deemed hazardous waste, and to be disposed of off-site.
Another part calls for two physical barriers to be installed during excavation—one around the perimeter of the Superfund site, and another one by one of toxic plumes, which has migrated off site, to prevent it from actually seeping to the proposed school’s boundaries.
A network of wells, in addition, are proposed to be installed in areas where the toxins have migrated off site to help recover as much of the contaminants as possible.
The plan, if approved after public review and a sign off by the DEC, would be carried out by the developer and come at an estimated implementation cost of $20.3 million. A timeline for the cleanup, however, is unclear, with the DEC noting in the proposal that the remedying would continue until all significant threats to public health are sufficiently contained at the site.
The DEC, however, previously said the cleanup could be finished well after All Year Management’s development is completed, which is slated for January 2021.
Along with the release of the PRAP is a public meeting set for Oct. 4, where the community can learn about and discuss the proposed clean-up plan and alternative methods. A comment period has also opened for the proposal, which kicks off today and lasts through Oct. 20.
The proposed remedy could be modified, or an alternative process could be selected, based on public comments received.
The selected clean up process will then be released in a document called a “Record of Decision” that will explain why a given plan was chosen, and will also respond to public comments. The DEC is aiming to release the ROD by the end of this year.
While All Year Management has since filed to build two mixed used buildings on site, with construction expected to begin in January 2019, the fate of the public school across the street is still uncertain.
The toxic site’s underground contaminants, known to cause a number of health problems including cancer and changes to the endocrine and reproduction system, have not reached the proposed school location within the Greenpoint Landing development. Their proximity, however, has frightened many, with recent calls for the school siting to change entirely.
Council Member Stephen Levin, along with Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, previously said the school’s location may have to change based on what the community feels, but that other issues may come up including securing funding and another location for the future school.
Levin will likely meet with the Park Tower Group, the owners of the Greenpoint Landing site, to discuss the school siting by the end of the year.
The public meeting to discuss the Proposed Remedial Action Plan will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct 4 at the basement auditorium of the Polish Slavic Center, located at 176 Java St.
Written comments about the proposed plan will be accepted from Sept. 20 through Oct. 20, and can be sent to:
Bryan Wong, Project Manager
NYSDEC, Region 2 Office
47-20 21st St.
Long Island City, NY 11101